Trump signs Abraham gun rights bill into law
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday (Feb. 28) signed a bill to repeal a rule from the Obama administration that stripped Second Amendment rights from certain disabled Social Security beneficiaries.
The initial bill to repeal the rule was led in the House by U.S. Reps. Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-La., and Sam Johnson, R-Texas, and led in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
The law ends a regulation implemented in the midnight hours of the Obama administration that required the Social Security Administration to submit to the FBI the names of all beneficiaries who are assigned a representative payee to manage their financial affairs due to a mental disability. Their names would then be put in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, which would effectively eliminate their Second Amendment right to buy and possess firearms without due process.
"This rule was a clear violation of the Second Amendment rights of disabled Americans. The government should not be allowed to arbitrarily strip people of their Constitutional rights without due process, and that's exactly what this regulation did. I thank President Trump for signing my bill into law and repealing this regulation that was a direct threat to the Constitution and the principles we hold dear," Dr. Abraham said.
Dr. Abraham and Rep. Johnson each introduced separate pieces of legislation during the 114th Congress in attempts to block the rule when it first surfaced. The two teamed up in the 115th Congress to take a second swipe at the rule, this time proving successful.
Disabled rights groups, mental illness advocacy groups, civil liberties groups, and gun owner rights groups all roundly opposed the rule.
"The current public dialogue is replete with inaccurate stereotyping of people with mental disabilities as violent and dangerous, and there is a real concern that the kind of policy change encompassed by this rule will reinforce those unfounded assumptions,"wrote Helena Berger, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities.
"The new rule reinforces unfounded perceptions associating mental illness and other mental disabilities with violence. Scientific studies that have assessed risk factors for violence contain no evidence linking difficulties with managing benefits with increased risks for violence," wrote Mary Giliberti, chief executive officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote, "...regulation of firearms and individual gun ownership or use must be consistent with civil liberties principles, such as due process, equal protection, freedom from unlawful searches, and privacy. All individuals have the right to be judged on the basis of their individual capabilities, not the characteristics and capabilities that are sometimes attributed (often mistakenly) to any group or class to which they belong. A disability should not constitute grounds for the automatic per se denial of any right or privilege, including gun ownership."
“Reporting law-abiding, non-dangerous individuals to NICS and forcing them, as a condition of removal, to prove they are not a threat to society is inconsistent wit the (Gun Control Act), the Second Amendment and basic due process,” wrote Chris Cox of the National Rifle Association.